Family Estate or MPV - Ricky13
Opinions and advice wanted please: -

As I am now the proud (sometimes!) father of 3 children under 8, I need to choose a more practical form of transport - for 5 plus the huge amount of luggage that they generate!

I have never been a fan of the larger MPVs (i.e. the Galaxy, Espace types) - partly due to the fact that they look like vans, but also because they have little luggage carrying capacity when the 3rd row of seats is being used.

Therefore, I am leanign towards a large used estate car, that is sufficiently wide to fit 2 child seats, plus a 3rd child across the back seat. Does anyone know which car has the widest back seat (together with a 3-point belt in the middle)?

I have sat in the back of a Fiat Multipla (a taxi in Milan) with 2 other adults, and was most impressed by the space available (certainly much better than the Picasso in my opinion), but I would prefer something a little more mainstream in appearance!

My current favourite is a 3 or 4 year old Omega estate - any opinions on this? And is a 3 year old car with 90,000 miles a better bet than a 5 year old car with 40,000 miles?

Any help very gratefully received.

Family Estate or MPV - volvoman
Now you'd expect me to say this but what about the Volvo 940/960 series ? Note the 850/V70 is probably too small.
I have 2 kids, regularly travel on hols. with 3 adults plus the kids (i.e. au-pair or mum-in-law) and on the rare occasion when I need more luggage space I use a really good top box.
This was you get the performance/handling of a car and don't have to compromise by driving around in an MPV all year when most of he time you don't actually need one.
Family Estate or MPV - volvoman
Sorry, should read 'this WAY you get the performance ....'
Family Estate or MPV - volvod5_dude
I disagree with Volvoman, a V70 has loads of room and a 3 point seat belt centre rear seat, plus all the safety features. Go for a second hand TDI if you can find one they perform very well for a large vehicle. If you require additional space use a top box as VM suggests. In my humble opinion Volvo,s are far better engineered than Vauxhalls.
Family Estate or MPV - Edd
How about a Mercedes benz C class or E class theuy r big in the back and the saloon E class has a bigger boot than some estates than I have been in the only thing is that the rear seats don't fold down to make a bigger load bay. Another sugestion is the Toyota Picnic which comes in both 6 and 7 seat versiona the 6 seater version has lovely comfortable big seperarte seats but one of the little ones has to go on there own.
Family Estate or MPV - volvoman
My comment re. space in the V70 is not first hand but my brother went from a 940 Wentworth to a V70 and says there's far less room in the back. From casual observation the load area in the V70 seems to be about 4-5 inches less than the 940/960.
Family Estate or MPV - volvod5_dude
VM, yes I agree the V70's are smaller than the 940/960 range, however V70's are newer and handle better, more safety devices which is an important factor when you have young kids, and are a lot better to drive than any MPV.

I tried out my sister-in-laws Galaxy TDI and it was very scary around corner's (top heavy) and the performance was nothing to write home about either. Handled more like a Transit, in fact it was worse than a Transit!

Didn't Galaxy's come near to last in some safety/customer satisfaction survey 2 or 3 years ago?
Family Estate or MPV - CM
Omega is a comfy easy driving car with a big load space. The other car that might be worth a look is a Scorpio/Granada Estate. Huge, well built, ugly headlights but (probably) cheap.
Family Estate or MPV - Jon
With my third child on the way I looked at a number of options including the Omega estate. Even though the car is very large there is still not much room in the back for three people.

I eventually went for a Galaxy TDi which I am really pleased with. We have to remove two of the seats when we have a lot of luggage, but we can choose which ones are removed. On a recent holiday we took out the middle seat from the middle row and one of the back seats. There was plenty of room for luggage and none of my children were close enough to annoy each other or me.

I don't mind driving the Galaxy either and the fuel economy and performance is excellent for such a large vehicle.

Family Estate or MPV - volvoman
Each to his own of course but it seems strange to 'compromise' on a year's driving for those few occasions annually when an MPV comes into its own.
Family Estate or MPV - volvod5_dude
Don't buy a diesel Scorpio the engines are rubbish.
Family Estate or MPV - GJD

Go for an estate rather than an MPV. That way, if I come up behind you on the road I will be able to see around/through you at the road ahead easily and I won't be tempted to overtake and cut you up when there isn't really enough room :-)


PS This post comes with a real smiley AND an implied smiley because I'm being tongue-in-cheek and I don't want to start a war with MPV fans.
Family Estate or MPV - CM
Big Estate + roofrack for those occasional times when you are too full. Estates should drive better than an MPV
Family Estate or MPV - Graham
Well as said above each to there own. I have a Sharan and wouldn't swap it for an estate. I have had estates in the past.

I must be a bit old because I have no problem with it's handling - but then I dont try to race people when I have my three kids and two dogs in like I guess the others do.

The seating arrangemant is very flexible and you can get sufficient luggage for a family of 5 to go hill walking and climbing for a week in it.

They are smooth on the motorway and economic too.
Family Estate or MPV - CM

Will confes to never having driven an MPV, although i do drive an estate.

Out of interest how does your VW handle in the wind? would presume being high sided it is blown around a bit but would be interested to know (esp with another sprog en route).
Family Estate or MPV - SjB {P}
... more safety devices which is an important factor when you have young kids ...

Why is a kid's life more important than any other passenger's?
Neither is in control of the vehicle, and both are at the mercy of their driver.

"more safety devices, which can be an important factor" is surely more accurate?

Family Estate or MPV - volvoman
If it's a contest between safety and performance a decent estate wins hands down. If on the other hand it's about what's fashionable at the moment the MPV wins. I know what I'd rather drive !
Family Estate or MPV - woodcutter
It just goes to show that what suits one person isn't right for another. As a Sharan owner for 18 months I am a huge fan, there is no estate that will sit 5 people individually and - more importantly with 3 kids - a reasonable distant apart and still have plenty of room for luggage and even Granny and/or Grandma! I certainly didn't choose it as a fashionable car (I really can't understand that as an argument), I agree that they are only tarted up vans but as for safety, they are far better than Discovery's etc. which give a very false sense of security. Have you seen the relative stopping distances!!!!! We use ours frequently as a family car so the argument about having it just to go on holiday is not valid, and I can get a b***** good load of logs in with the rear seats out without the need for a trailer!
And (tongue ever so slightly in cheek) I just couldn't be seen in a Volvo........should provoke a response.
I suggest you try both out before making a decision, most retailers will be happy enough for you to take a car for a reasonable test drive, make sure you take the family to get a true picture. Happy hunting!
Family Estate or MPV - volvoman
Woodcutter - what suits you of course and you do seem to make use of your MPV. However I didn't actually mention Volvos at all because what I said would apply to any decent estate which will always out perform an MPV (in terms of safety, fuel economy, road holding, performance etc. etc.). I
The fact that currently I drive a Volvo has far more to do with the fact that I needed another car and my brother was selling his 940 than it does with a sense of brand loyalty. I have 2 kids (one of whom has special needs) and frequently carry myself, my wife, the kids and either another adult/child. No problem ! Yes I agree that I can't swap the seats about but I've never wanted or needed to do that so why would I buy an MPV which as you've quite rightly said is a tarted up van ? The fashion statement I made applies to MPV's as much as it does to off-roaders. The truth is that most people who drive an off-roader don't go off road and are therefore driving a vehicle which has been designed for a particular purpose for something quite different. The same goes for MPV's to a large extent. I know people who bought MPV's with 7 seats 'cos they thought it would be cool to take 7 people around. Do they ever use the 7 seats ? Noooooooooo ! They seem to spend quite a lot of time farting about with the bl**dy seats though ! These seat configurations are great if you want to have a business meeting in your MPV or have a picninc inside but how often do most MPV drivers actually do that ?
Family Estate or MPV - Trisha TR
Has to be an estate... Volvo or my personal choice the Mitsubishi Gallant. I am biased - I hat these family vans (mpv) as earlier comments say the actual luggage space is pathetic (without removing seats); also when - as you will be at some point - driving on your own the estate is a far more suitable vehicle.

However I do understand that MPVs are more accessible (re fitting seats) than estate's and may be, with 3+children, are more practical. What I really can't fathom is why someone would ditch a Focus for a Galaxy when they've only got one child?! I'll shut up now before I irk someone too much with my obvious hatred for family fans (and wink wagons - those 4x4 things - get my goat too).
Family Estate or MPV - volvod5_dude

Sorry, I wasn't writing a contract! However your interpretation is more accurate. Next time I post something I'll run it by my legal dept.
Family Estate or MPV - Robbo
We went to a Centre Parcs type place in Holland for our holiday this year. Almost all of the other vehicles there were either from Germany or Holland; we were the only GB plate visible. Anyway, the point I wish to make is that out of the 300+ vehicles which I saw there, only one was an MPV (and that was on a Belgian plate, and we all know that the Belgians can't be relied upon). The Germans and Dutch all seem to prefer to drive estate cars with roof-boxes, as opposed to MPV's, if thay have a family with a shedload of luggage + bicycles to transport. Why should this be ? My theory is that the continentals base their choice of vehicle on practicalities and not on fashion.

I am only surprised that HM Government has not realised a means to earn increased revenue from vehicles, which would also bring them increased popularity form the majority of motorists: extra road fund licence fees for 4x4's and MPV's. Oh, and caravans as well. Now that WOULD be a vote-winner.
Family Estate or MPV - Robbo
Forgot to say:

I used to work for a large 'household name' company, from whom I was fortunate enough to receive a company car. Company policy was that we could choose any vehicle up to a certain value. Naturally, the "certain value" varied according to ones position in the company. However, there was a rule which was stictly enforced without exception: No 4x4's or MPV's. I never discovered the reason for this rule.
Family Estate or MPV - Trisha TR
Robbo - those policies would get my vote!!! I'll second you if you wish to run for parliament ;-)
Family Estate or MPV - Bob the builder
Dead simple ! Buy yourself a Toyota Carina (if you can keep one out of the hands of taxi firms). They are massive, both in interior (esp. rear) space and have a massive boot. We've had one for five years to cope with our three kids. Bullet-proof reliability as well. Very cheap to buy off retired bank managers - if you can get hold of one.
Bt B
Remember - it's not how you vote that matters's who does the counting.
Family Estate or MPV - woodcutter
Some people seem to rather passionate about their hatred for MPV's which overides any sensible comments. No-one has explained why having one is a fashion statement and if we can get 4 adults and 3 children plus luggage to Glasgow airport for a 2 week holiday to Spain where is the lack of luggage space? It's all down to personal preference at the end of the day, ours has been a real boon to family trips so where is the problem?
Family Estate or MPV - Robbo
The problem for you will come if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a collision. You will then discover that an MPV is nowhere near as safe as a proper car. Their safety standards are equivalent to a commercial van (ie not a lot).
The problem for the rest of us is when we are stuck behind or next to you and we can see b*gg*r all. Or when you take up two parking spaces cos you have no appreciation for the size of your vehicle.
No problem for Gordon Brown who must be rubbing his hands at the thought of all of those gas-guzzling MPV's.
And how often do you need to get 4 adults, 3 children + luggage to Glasgow airport ? Twice a year ? So that's 4 days in the year when having an MPV is actually of any use. On the other 361/2 days of the year, your MPV is trundling around the Tescos car-park, causing problems for the rest of us. Ditch the MPV, call a taxi for your airport trips (no parking to pay for), and buy a proper car for your weekly trips to Tesco.
Family Estate or MPV - woodcutter
Unfortunately your vitriol has got the better of you Robbo and you have made numerous uninformed statements about my circumstances, I will repeat again - slowly if it's easier to understand - it's down to personal choice. I live in a rural part of the world and regular taxi use would be both inconvenient and expensive, we use the internet to get the monthly shop from Tesco and use the local village shop the rest of the time which is within easy walking distance. Should I also hire a taxi or car for the weekend trips and the holidays in Scotland or just cram everything into a smaller car? I see examples of badly parked cars regardless of size every day where I work and if you are 'stuck' behind me then I'm sorry, but then I could make an easy assumption about your driving and say don't drive like an idiot! However, I'm sure that you don't. Your views (and those of others on this thread) would carry more weight if you were not blinded by prejudice.
And volvoman I actually quite like Volvos, an 850 estate was one of the options I considered, I apologise unreservedly if I caused any offence.
Family Estate or MPV - GJD
"No-one has explained why having one is a fashion statement "

An MPV can't possibly be a fashion statement. Estate cars look like cars, which is nice. MPVs look like shapeless blobs of goo, which isn't nice.

Family Estate or MPV - eric's son
I've just bought a mercedes a-class, which admittedly isn't a true mpv but does contain many of the features that delight/enrage earlier correspondents.
My main reason for choosing this type of vehicle is the additional height that leads to a greatly enhanced view of the road ahead. I find it much more relaxing either in town or on the open road. As an ex London Ambulance Service emergency driver, in heavy traffic I reckon it is one of the biggest safety bonuses going. I always preferred using blues & twos in a lumbering sherpa ambulance to a cavalier simply because the view allowed you to get there more safely & often quicker (although that of course may be to do with the "being seen" factor also)

Family Estate or MPV - Baskerville
Of course MPVs are a fashion statement. If they weren't people would buy ex-Variety Club Transit vans, save themselves a fortune, and have a handy hydraulic lift on the back for those heavy shopping bags. But no. They have to have the velour, and the aircon, the satnav, and the alloys. If anything an MPV says: "I'm not daft enough to buy a 4x4 when I don't need one, but people depend on me to ferry them around. I am therefore an important person (so get out of my way)." What's really funny is that people don't like it when they are accused of making choices based (in part) on what is fashionable, but they'd hate it if people thought they were unfashionable. We all do it, because we like to fit in with the people around us. Of course the advertisers love it.

Family Estate or MPV - GJD
" ...because we like to fit in with the people around us"

If we wanted to fit in with people around us we wouldn't drive vehicles that overflowed into their parking spaces ;-)

Family Estate or MPV - Baskerville
OK, I should have said: "with other people just like us." I reckon in the end the original questioner will buy the car that he judges will get him least ribbing from his mates.

Family Estate or MPV - Robbo
What on earth did these MPV'ers do before MPV's were invented ?
Family Estate or MPV - CM
Did they drive Pug 505s (?) that had 3 rows of seats?
Family Estate or MPV - Robbo
Mmmmm, that would be an estate car, then ? How blissful it must have been in those long forgotten days, before some marketing guru invented the MPV.
Family Estate or MPV - volvoman
Woodcutter - I don't think anyone said you bought your MPV purely as a fashion statement but the fact is that most MPV drivers seem to. What else can it be called when so many people buy vehicles they don't really need and probably won't fully use ? As with 4x4 off-roaders, what is the point of compromising so much just for 1 or 2 occasions when the 'extra' facilities/capabilities are actually used ?
I have no problem with people driving whatever they want (as long as they're legal) but the original question was 'which is best' and the estate is the winner by a knockout I reckonin almost every respect.
PS there's really no need to apologise for any offence as none was taken. I've already explained how I came to have a Volvo and I'm not sure I'll be getting another. I really don't care what others think of my car as it really isn't an extension of me - it's just a tool for getting from A to B safely whilst carrying my family and the things I need to take.
Family Estate or MPV - Jon

Me thinks the estate car advocates protest too much! Come on and admit that you really want an MPV as well.

They are so popular because they are versatile and the compromises are minimal.

Anyone with three kids will understand the big difference between squeezing them all into the back seat of an estate compared to the possibilities offered by a seven seater. Each child has their own space and room to put their stuff.

As for handling and performance, I have no problems when driving sensibly. If I want thrills, I will buy a motorbike and leave the kids at home.

We go out in our Galaxy most weekends and often take a picnic. If the weather is bad we always have the option of eating in the car with the front seats turned around.

To answer an earlier point, the reason why companies don't let their staff buy an MPV as a company car is because they know most people (with 3 or more kids) would do given the choice. The bosses of these companies are just frustrated BWM/AUDI/VOLVO estate car drivers.
Family Estate or MPV - Cliff Pope
I think ultimately everything is a fashion statement, even saying that a car is just for getting from A to B. It is placing onself with a particular category of person.
We all then compromise between our inner 'fashion wishes' and practical reality.
As therefore both needs and desires vary, that leaves a lot of space for 'each to his own'.

All I can add to this debate is that MPVs would have to be pretty strong to beat a Volvo estate - I have just been run into when stationary by an ordinary car - not sure what, at 20 mph. The culprit has a smashed bumper, lights, cross-member, radiator grill and radiator.and is just about driveable. My Volvo has a small scratch on the tow-ball cover.
Family Estate or MPV - blowpipe
Saab 9000CSE? Now cheap to buy,well engineered,luxury feel, go on for ages, massive boot. My family of five has had one for six years now, the kids are slowly destroying it but, with the help of a top box can get the family plus associated kit on hols and elsewhere effortlessly.
Family Estate or MPV - PB
It is worth remembering that the taller cars (can) have better legroom in the back. From experience the Honda CRV has a flat floor, loads of legroom for 3 in the back plus reasonable boot space - you would probably want a topbox for holidays though. Also as a passenger the extra visibility makes the journey less dull.
Guys - thanks for all the advice - Ricky13
Guys - thanks for all the advice - much appreciated
Guys - thanks for all the advice - J Bonington Jagworth
Bet you didn't expect to spark quite such a heated debate!

FWIW (and I don't have an MPV) I think that one of the main reasons that people like them is simply the higher seating position. Driving is often more pleasurable if you can see around you, and children appreciate it even more. Of course, it cheeses off those below you (see above!) but why worry?
Guys - thanks for all the advice - Robbo
With an attitude like this, JBJ, you SHOULD be driving an MPV:

>>Of course, it cheeses off those below you (see above!) but why >>worry?

That attitude personifies the typical MPV'er and 4x4'er.
Guys - thanks for all the advice - J Bonington Jagworth
"Of course, it cheeses off those below you (see above!) but why worry?"

That's not my attitude - I was referring to the rather tetchy responses higher up the thread!

There are times when I would like to be higher up, but mostly I prefer the handling/performance that comes with a low centre of gravity. Of course, on a motorbike, you have the best of both worlds...
Guys - thanks for all the advice - GJD

That's only a temporary advantage. When you get too annoyed at not being able to see around/past/through van sized vehicles everywhere, the only solution is to get one yourself. When the majority of drivers have done this we will all be seated higher up so will get a decent view of the road ahead. Just like we did before the MPV blighted the world. Except all our cars will be 50% bigger than they need to be and they won't fit in garages, car parks (parking space size / low roof), ferries etc.

Family Estate or MPV - volvo-hater
Can I put a new slant on Rick's original question? My wife is almost due to deliver twins which will make 5 in all!! Currently I could not better my Merc E class diesel estate which comes with an extra row of seats in the boot. Having test driven a Toyota Previa I can vouch for which is the most pleasureable to drive! However the only luggage I can carry for a family of seven is what you can accommodate in roof box ( and thats got to include the double buggy!) So shall I dump my beloved Merc for the Previa which is OK but not in the same class of car?
Family Estate or MPV - DGently
Sorry to resurect an old thread on what might be a dull question to many.

I'm trying to make the same decision as Rick was last year. I too need to fit three in the back, with all three under the age of five.

I have two now and get along fine in our beautiful Alfa 156. The third is due next March, so I'm trying to get my ducks in a row.

I have not yet seen a saloon/estate that will accomodate three child seats or two + booster (which will come later).

That's why I'm leaning towards an small MPV like the Picasso. In particular the ability to slide the individual rear seats forward and back would allow me to accomodate the child seats much more easily (they could loosely "interlock").

Hope that makes sense.

Anyway, my question is can anyone save me from MPVdom? Is there a car wide enough to do the job?
Family Estate or MPV - Altea Ego
Is this new or second hand? Reason I ask is three new models on the scene

Ford Focus C-max
Volkswagen Touran
New Renault Scenic (7 seat version next year)

According to the reviews, all handle and drive much more car like than first generation MPV's
Family Estate or MPV - BobbyG
Isn't it annoying when you get to the end of a thread and realise that its an old one that has been resurrected!!

I was just building up all my arguments for the benefits of MPVs over cars that have been modified by putting an extension on the back of them!!

I suppose I should start looking at the dates!

Anyway, for what its worth, the MPV hands down, better driving position, far more room in car, more room in footwells for kiddie's stuff etc.

I am onto my second Scenic and still I meet people who are amazed by how much room it has - also for what its worth, I don't think the Scenic is that much bigger than the Megane hatchback, so doesn't take up double spaces etc.
Family Estate or MPV - Baskerville
Amazing isn't it? Seven years down the line Ford comes up with something that looks remarkably like a Mark 1 Scenic, even down to the rear side windows with the curved trailing edge. From the front only the headlights and blue oval give it away.
Family Estate or MPV - hxj
Are you sure that you are trying hard enough with the car seats? I used to have three under 4 and got three seats in the back of a Metro, one of them was a booster seat. The eldest 3 ¾ was fine in the booster seat and the other two were in ?bucket? style seats rather than the posh ones, but it worked. We even used to go away with a travel cot and pushchairs, packing was an art form!

I wouldn?t touch an MPV unless you need 6+ seats, the Scenic style cars are OK but cars are better.

I currently have a Zafira as number 4 appeared about 4 years ago. Much more car like than the large MPV?s, and my 5?5" 13 year old still fits in the ?boot?. An ideal compromise, although holiday packing is still an art form.

I test drove the Touran recently and was very disappointed. Sure it drive better than the Zafira and looks better inside, but given that the Zafira has been around for 4 years now the difference was surprisingly little. The price differential is also about £3k, cant see it.

Family Estate or MPV - Hairy Hat Man
With three under 5's (including twins under a year) an MPV makes physically getting the kids in and out of the back soooo much easier than an estate. So many modern estates have sculpted rear seats to accomodate adult behinds, when child seats are much easier to fit to, and I would expect safer, a fairly flat bench seat.

We have zafira and consider it an extremely practicle compromise. Admittedly, I've used the extra seats more when carting mates round on a Friday night than with the family plus in-laws, but in the zafira they're an added bonus - they take up zero room and you don't have to decide if you're going to use them in advance of your trip or find anywhere in the garage to store them.
Family Estate or MPV - DGently
I think child seats have grown - my two take up both "proper" seats in the back of the 156 and leave very little room between.

I'm thinking when the oldest graduates to a booster I don't want her knocking between the hard edges of the child seats.

Like you, I uncomfortable getting an MPV when I only need to accomodate three small people. It's the accoutrements that make this awkward. The ability to slide three individual rear seats seems to me to be the solution to my problem, but I haven't found that anywhere outside an MPV.

I'd also agree that the newer models seem to offer very little over the established leaders. I'm hoping Citroen release the 1.6 tdci in time for me, as it seems the perfect match for that kind of car.
Family Estate or MPV - Ricky13
If it is of any interest, I finally settled for a Peugeot 406 Family estate.

It drives beautifully (though build-quality leaves something to be desired) - has plenty of room for my 3 (2 proper child seats, plus a booster in the middle), and also allows my wife to share the school run (we can put 2 more kids in the boot) with other mums, who invariably have large MPVs (Galaxy, Grand Voyager) or 4-wheel drive (Shogun, X5) without taking up 2 places in the school car park.

It took a while to find one, but I paid £5,695 for an X-reg 2.0GTX with 51,000 miles on the clock.


Family Estate or MPV - MS
How about a Peugeot 307sw?

Looks like an estate with 5 MPV style rear seats.

I regularly carry 4 adults, a 4 year old and 8 year old without any problems.

The passengers love the glass roof too.

Value my car